How progressive is Uganda’s tax code?

How progressive is Uganda’s tax code?

As we approach FY 2018/2019 and the statecraft colour that comes around with it – the State of the Nation address and reading of the national budget; the dressing room rehearsals are taking shape.

For the first time, Ugandans are debating the revenue side of the budget. For a number of years, debate on the public budget through the circle of consultations in districts, civil society boardrooms, government and parliamentary hallways; most talk and thinking have been about what to spend on, where to spend, why and how to spend on things!

That we are now talking and circling on sources of public revenue is a good thing. I hope our buzzing talk on a number of mainstream, social, and get-together platforms – finds space into ambers of public policy.

First, the recent ‘thinking out of the box’ WhatsApp tax, the proposed 15% tax on money transfers, the directive to banks to lay open citizen’s bank accounts for purposes of taxation have really got me thinking about our country’s tax code.

It’s logic of ages that a country’s tax code can break or boost its economy. These hasty, non consultative and policy by slogan tax proposals are a response to an open secret – that the economy has been hurting since 2016 and the 6.7% GDP rebound that deputy governor, Bank of Uganda Dr Louis Kasekende recently mentioned at a Uganda Securities Exchange event is not a concrete story and is not felt in people’s pockets.

Kasekende knows that Uganda has all the rights to brag about is macro-economic stability and not micro-economic stability.

The wellness of the economy should in fact be more at the core measured on number of meaningful jobs it creates, the purchasing power of citizenry – and the health of current account. Since independence, Uganda has seldom operated a current account surplus.

According to open source datasets from Central Intelligence Agency, as of January 2018, Uganda’s current account deficit was at -$1.476 billion. Precisely, we continue to import more goods and services and export less goods and services.

This speaks to the state of our strategic and productive capacity as a country […]

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